The Marriage of Process and Product
I was 22 years old, and had just made it back to New Jersey from a four-month trip traveling around the States aboard Amtrak trains.
Actually, the train-riding part of the trip only lasted a month. It was during the middle of November. If it hadn’t been for that hostel-slash-homeless shelter-slash-psychiatric ward I stayed at in Chicago, things might’ve been different. I might’ve gone all the way out to California. But that cold hostel broke my spirit, and I could go no further west. Instead, I traveled straight down the mighty Mississippi to New Orleanspoor, sweet, wonderful New Orleansto warm my soul.
I spent a week recovering with red beans and rice at Igor’s Tavern on St. Charles Place, and green-beaned Bloody Marys and the music of piano man, Johnny Gordon, at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon, and the crazy cheeping and chirping like cymbal crashes and brassy jazz of all the little birdies under the old awnings of Caf Du Monde.
And from New Orleans, I traveled back east, to my mother’s house in quiet Deltona, Florida. And there I stayed for the remaining three months, eating and sleeping well, and writing a book recounting the loneliness of travel.
The book was never published as a whole, but poems from it and an earlier collection were soon accepted by a journal in England called FIRE. I remember that this was something that had impressed John Atkinson when he saw my resume. He told me so during the interview. I was surprised.
We talked about music. He saw that I was in a band. By this time, Michelle had moved back to San Francisco for good, and Genie Boom was no more. The new bandwhich lives still todaywas the Multi-Purpose Solution. There’s something that very few people know about the relationship between John Atkinson and the Multi-Purpose Solution. I will tell you soon.
I told John what I loved most about playing live was that it was the marriage of process and product. Playing live is the process and the product, at once. The musician strums a chord and the audience hears it. It’s happening right then and there, instantly. There are few things like that, I think. This blog comes close.
It’s not like a lot of the other work we do here at the magazine, the process taking place months in advance of the product, working on the October issue, the November issue, the Buyer’s Guide all at once, forgetting what month we’re actually currently living in. Working for a magazine can destroy the idea of living "in the moment."
But it offers other joys: there’s always something to look forward to. Each month, when the new magazine comes in from the printers, John celebrates with us, he dances, he shouts, he congratulates us.
And then, he jokes: "Does this mean we have to do another one?"